Customer Intelligence - What is it, and why is it important?

By Alex Dunmow, Ninja Software

Customer Intelligence is the gathering and analysis of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) sources, combined with focused customer interaction tracking, to generate actionable information that drives customer satisfaction, spend, and loyalty. Using tactics and methods directly inspired by the Intelligence Agencies.

Using sophisticated AI profiling algorithms, combining seemingly innocent data from internal systems (CRMs, email communication with public information, we can discover compelling correlations. Correlations that will provide your sales agents a secret weapon with which to increase sales throughput, by tailoring insights and recommended actions automatically to the right people.

On the flip side, customer intelligence gathering can be seen to be in an ethical grey zone. Is it a violation of privacy to do internet deep dives on people?

Develop a Strategy

Being proactive means making decisions based on evidence, not your gut feeling. Are you being proactive? Or just reactive?

Focus your intelligence gathering

Identify the key entities on which you want to collect intelligence.
This might include competitors, key customers, partners, and even potential hires.

What are some examples of customer intelligence?

Customer intelligence is the information extracted from customer data with the purpose of understanding customer behavior and producing insights in order to drive future business growth.

Customer data can include behavioral data, demographic data, web and mobile browsing activities, sentiment analysis on communications, support team interactions, survey data, social media actions, transactions, customer preferences and sales team interactions.

Customer Touchpoints

CI (Customer Intelligence) systemises data capture at every meaningful touch point. Creating a complete picture of your customer experience with powerful AI automatically reviewing all phone calls, social media, third-party review sites and front-line employees.

Email Tracking

Most half decent CRMs will perform some email tracking. Link clicks, email opens and other techniques all provide meaning intelligence. This can and should be taken further.

By embedding tracking tags in your email, you can track email reads, opens and forwards. With a properly set up email system, these tracking tokens can be automatically added to every outgoing email.

Email opens
  • What time during the day do they read your emails?
  • What is the average time it takes for them to read?
  • What is their average time to respond?
  • Are they forwarding your emails to other people?
  • Are they likely reading your emails from home?
  • Are they reading them on a PC or a phone?

Link clicks
  • Who are they CC’ing outside of your organisation
  • Who are they communicating most with inside your organisation
  • do they respond quicker to certain people?
  • does Sentiment Analysis indicate who they may like or dislike?

Your Website

By pairing browser fingerprinting technology with your email tracking system, you can closely monitor your customer’s interaction with your website.

Much like Facebook and Google track visits to websites with their embedded analytics, this same power can be focused on your customers.


Are you tracking your invoice related activities? If not, you really should be.

Google News Alerts

This is a simple one: you really want to know when your client is in the news. 

ASIC Monitoring

ASIC’s Company Alert is a free, simple service offered by ASIC to track any changes made to a company or to check which documents are lodged.

Are you tracking the movements of your biggest customers?

Phone App Permissions

Phone Apps can provide you a surprising amount of data if you’re willing to push the boundaries of privacy and ethics. 

Data collected through smartphone apps can include anything from profile information such as age and gender to location details, data about nearby cell phone towers or Wi-Fi routers, and information about every other app on a phone.

Next time you install an app, check the permissions the app is asking for.

Have I Been Pwned?

Have I Been Pwned? is a website that allows Internet users to check whether their personal data has been compromised by data breaches.

It’s a great service for you to check if any of your data and passwords are out there.

It can also give you a bit of an insight into a customer. As almost every business tool known to man has been hacked and data dumped, you may get an insight into the kinds of problems your customer is trying to solve with the apps and services they’re paying for. This can be especially useful information for IT service providers.

Office and Retail Store Visits

This can be manually tracked by your receptionist or retail staff, and it makes sense to do so.

If you wanted to be really tricky, you can also set up some passive bluetooth monitoring on your customers. By identifying their phone’s Bluetooth fingerprint, you can track their comings and goings from your properties. With the right set up, you could even track them going past your buildings.

Domain Name WHOIS Lookups

Sometimes you can find interesting information from running a WHOIS on a company’s website. 

Customer Journey Analytics

Customer journey analytics is the weaving together of every touchpoint that a customer interacts with, across multiple channels and over time.

Once you are tracking your customers sufficiently, you can start analysing their movements holistically, creating a point by point map of your client’s journey through the internet, and in physical space.


Constant surveying of your customers is important, and is more than just your Net Promoter Score or Survey Monkey results.

Social Media

You’ll be surprised (or not) about what you can find about people using social media.

Monitor and scrape their website

Tracking your client’s website is important. You’ll want to know as soon as there is new information. Giving your salespeople an icebreaker or alerting you to a new venture they’re getting involved in.

Use “sigint” as well as “humint”

Sigint, or signals intelligence, is intelligence gathering by interception of signals.

Humint, or Human Intelligence is information gathered and analysed by human power.

There’s a lot that can be automated in this regard, the majority of the intelligence gathering examples I’ve given you are examples of Signals Intelligence.

These two elements are equally important and all intelligence agencies rely in part on human analysts to make sense of intelligence. Companies should also make use of both electronic and human intelligence sources; even in spite of the work of companies like Ninja Software, the intelligence-gathering and analysing functions will not be fully automated anytime soon.

If you truly want to know more about your customers, you should definitely be tracking their online behaviors and activities, but often an even better source of information is simply talking to them, and asking your salespeople and support staff about them.

It is incredibly important to tightly manage how your staff interpret your electronic data and track their own interactions with your customer. Regardless, the majority of businesses out there are not tracking this simple-to-acquire data.
For more information about the content of this article, please contact

Expression of Interest

Western Australian selects leading growth companies to become Members.

International Leaders